The initial fetal human retinal vasculature develops by vasculogenesis

D. Scott McLeod, Takuya Hasegawa, Tarl Prow, Carol Merges, Gerard Lutty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


There is increasing evidence that the hemangioblast, a common progenitor for hematopoietic cells and endothelial cells, participates in embryonic and extra-embryonic vasculogenesis in some organs. Whether resident angioblasts or endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) contribute to human retinal vasculogenesis is still a matter of controversy. To address this controversy, fetal human retinas of 6-23 weeks gestation (WG) were examined using immunohistochemistry and a panel of antibodies against endothelial cell markers (CD34, CD31), a marker for retinal angioblasts and endothelium (CD39/ecto-ADPase), and a marker for precursors and hemangioblasts (CXCR4). Confocal microscopic spectral analysis and double labeling with Ki67 was used to identify the proliferating cell types. In the inner neuroblastic layer of the 6-8 WG retina and in the putative ganglion cell layer in avascular regions of older eyes (14 WG-20 WG), scattered CD39+ angioblasts were well in advance of forming vasculature. There was a layer of CXCR4+ cells in the inner retina that was reduced in size with development. As blood vessels formed, CD39 + cells were always well in advance of the vascular front and they expressed CXCR4. This demonstrates that a pool of resident angioblasts express CD39 and CXCR4 as they differentiate and participate in vasculogenesis in the fetal human. They retain expression of CD39 as endothelial cells in the newly formed retinal vasculature but they down-regulate CXCR4 expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3336-3347
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Angioblasts
  • Astrocyte precursor cells
  • Astrocytes
  • Endothelial cells
  • Progenitors
  • Proliferation
  • Vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The initial fetal human retinal vasculature develops by vasculogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this